Meghalaya govt to set up independent inquiry

SHILLONG, Nov 26: The Meghalaya government has instituted an Independent Inquiry into the events leading to the assault of women rights and RTI activists Agnes Kharshiing and her colleague Amita Sangma at East Jaintia Hills on November 8.

The decision to institute an independent inquiry was taken by the Meghalaya cabinet which was held on Monday evening at the state Secretariat.

Informing this to media persons, Meghalaya Home Minister James K Sangma however informed that the modalities like, terms of reference and the person who will be heading the inquiry committee will be taken collectively by the state’s Political and Law departments.

“We are concerned over the prevailing situation therefore we have decided to institute an independent inquiry,” Sangma told media persons.

However, the Home Minister said that the Independent Inquiry will examine the genesis of the incidents which meant that it will have to probe all that has happened since the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on coal mining since April 2014.

Informing media persons that the incident will have to be probed in its totality, Sangma said, “We want to get into the genesis of the incident and therefore want it to be a comprehensive inquiry.”

It may be mentioned that Agnes and Amita were brutally assaulted by a group of people after the activist lodged a complaint on illegal mining and transportation of coal in the district.

The National Green Tribunal had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before it, alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in the Jaintia Hills.

Meanwhile, the Home Minister also reiterated that law will take its own course on any one found involved in the brutal assault of Agnes and Amita.

“The police is actively pursuing the matter,” Sangma said.

On the issue of compensation given by the East Jaintia Hills district administration through the Disaster Management Corpus Fund, to the two injured women who are admitted at North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), the Home Minister said, “The administration tried to help and the important part is that they went ahead and provided relief.”

It may be mentioned that the Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Women Empowerment has questioned the logic of the district administration to give a compensation of Rs 12,700 each to the victims for their medical expenses through the Disaster Management Corpus Fund.

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